Being in funeral service has taught me a lot about bringing people together to accomplish the goals and objectives at hand. Often times I have to be the middle man between the families I serve and other people or entities. I believe in being transparent with people as well as being honest. In business, one must be able to watch and manage income and apply funds appropriately without over-spending. Using common-sense and being the voice of those who have put their trust in us to represent them is a quality that I very much believe in. When citizens speak we must listen. We will never be able to satisfy everyone in the districts across the county, but we should take into consideration their concerns.
I believe there are many important responsibilities of a school board member. Finances, redistricting, listening to the school teachers and having an open dialog with the community. Listening to the parents, teachers, and the community as well as being the voice for them are all important responsibilities regardless of their color, race, creed or their political party affiliation. I also believe in being the voice for the citizens, teachers, and students and being their advocate and not being a yes man with the status quo.
Overspending, mismanagement, and not using common sense are critical in sustaining a viable school system. The county has raised taxes 14% to address the funding needs of the county schools. Because of the redistricting children have to be bussed from longer distances which increases the funding needs of the schools. The current board approved 103 million dollars for mobile units that only accommodate 146 students throughout the districts. The overspending on these units has only scratched the surface of addressing the overcrowding in schools. Consolidating other schools, in my opinion, is not the answer. We need to look at alternatives that help benefit the budget and not make the situation worse. The financial outlook looks good on paper, but how spending is actually carried out has the potential to show something else that may in turn not be beneficial to the county and the quality of education for our students.
Reaching out to teachers in a confidential manner and learning about their concerns with how the administration in their schools is an excellent way to ensure teacher retention. Often times, cliques are formed in schools and teachers who are not in specific cliques are treated unfairly by their administration and other teachers. Having an open dialog with the teachers and learning about their satisfaction and dissatisfaction as well as gaining their input on how the school system can improve is important to retain good teachers. By retaining good teachers as well as treating all educators fairly is one way to promote professional development. The morale of teachers means everything to the profession. Teachers are professionals and they should be treated as such and not micromanaged. Being creative and thinking outside of the box is how students learn.
Neither important nor unimportant
Learning starts at a very young age. Children that are exposed to learning as well the routine and developing their social skills are some of the best ways for students to succeed throughout their future educational career. Learning discipline and good study habits are equally as important. By repetitiously exposing children to a learning environment efficiently is how learned behavior is developed. Learning deficiencies and behavior issues can also be addressed through an effective IEP.
Let me start by saying that when qualified teachers have a desire to leave one school system and go to another; something is wrong with the system at the specific school. Retention and recruiting starts at the administration level. The administration level can reflect on those who are at Central Office. Closely monitoring retention as well as ascertaining reasoning why teachers leave is the best way to learn how we can improve. One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is conflicts in personalities.
The school system needs to closely monitor the satisfaction of the teachers they already have. By looking at the turnover rate at each school will tell you a lot about how the administration is run. My wife has taught in the school system for 13 years. She has seen first hand how administration has handled different situations in the past and how good and well-qualified teachers have left. My wife is a perfect example. She left the Moore County School System to take a job with a charter school. When teachers leave the Moore County School System to go and work at charter schools and they are happier where they are, speak volumes for charter schools. There are teachers now that are patiently waiting for an opportunity to leave their current position to go and work for charter schools. This in turn reflects badly on how those in upper management of the school system.
I’m an advocate for our public schools and believe all students should learn in a safe, quality environment to reach their full potential for success.
Appointed to the Moore County Board of Education in September of 2019, I bring firsthand knowledge of the cultural, operational and financial aspects of the Moore County School System. Additionally, having over a forty-four year career in the electric utility industry, I bring considerable experience and training in managing and providing leadership to professional, administrative and craft employees, preparing and managing operating budgets and leading daily operations to achieve specific goals and drive results, while adhering to safety as a core value, in a dangerous working environment. As an electrical engineer, I bring extensive experience in long range planning and budgeting for infrastructure expansion of the electrical distribution system over a five-county area to meet growing electrical demands. This experience translates directly to the strategic planning required to meet the growing needs of the Moore County School System. I have served on the Southern Pines Town Planning Board and on Moore County’s Hazardous Materials Planning committee. My tenure on these appointments have provided me with an appreciation and respect for the opinion and concerns of others within the community. I’ve supported community and civic efforts through active participation in civic organizations that focus on developing character and supporting youth, and have directly supported charitable efforts in the community through Board participation and fund-raising efforts.
School board members have several important responsibilities. They must provide for a safe, quality learning environment which allows each and every student within Moore county to be successful and achieve their full potential regardless of economic-social status, race, ethnicity, gender or religious belief. Equally important, board members must ensure educators and staff are respected, feel valued and have the support and resources needed to be continually motivated and successful in their role within the education system. Additionally, board members have the responsibility to keep students, parents and the community at large engaged in the education process and encouraged to provide input on a continuing basis. Board members must maintain a long-range strategic plan to meet the growing educational demands within Moore County and ensure that the budget supports that plan. I see board members as providing overall leadership in developing policy and setting the tone for education within Moore County.
State funding to support teachers is a critical need to help reduce increasing class size. Mandated class size reductions in K-3 grade levels without state funding have resulted in increased class size for higher grade levels. Additionally, state funding for resource staffing (i.e. councilors, nurses, phycologists, and social workers) is critical, particularly with increasing student needs for support services with the disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Continued advocacy by the school board for improving funding at the state level is paramount. Funding needs may be offset locally to an extent by cutting services, positions and improving efficiencies in the operation of our schools, however; the impact on funding needs through this means is limited. Alternative revenue sources could be another means by which funding needs can be mitigated. An increase above the existing allotment of lottery funds for teaching and resource staff is one consideration.
Overall teacher satisfaction within Moore County Schools has shown dramatic improvement in recent years as measured through the composite Teacher Working Conditions Survey. Moore County’s composite scores have seen steady improvement since 2014, rising from last place across Region IV to second place in 2020, which is 2.3 points above the regional average and 3.9 points above the state average. The school board must set expectations for the superintendent and staff with a premium on culture. Additionally, school improvement plans should have a culture component. Having and maintaining a positive culture, with an emphasis on engagement at all levels, can be a catalyst for continuing professional development of our educators.
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-Kindergarten is very important as it provides early develop of social and interactive skills which formulate a solid foundation for learning and supporting the student's transition to Kindergarten, helping the student achieve their full potential and future success.
At the State level, I see teacher pay as a significant constraint for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. Compounding this is the level of local support for teacher supplements. Supplements can have a negative impact on recruitment and retention, if surrounding counties can offer more incentive. Board members must continue to be advocates for improvement in teacher pay at the state and local levels. Additionally, the supply of teachers has fallen short of demand due to past action by the General Assembly, phasing out programs like the Teaching Fellows program and supplemental pay for Master’s degrees. These have been reinstated in recent years, however; the Teaching Fellows program focuses more on Special Education and STEM and less on diversity, which negatively impacts the pool of qualified minority candidates.